Photo: Intercrew LA
Intercrew is a new high-end restaurant located at 3330 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010 in the heart of Koreatown LA. With 15,000+ square feet within the historical Morgan Adams building, Intercrew breathes new life not only into the building itself but also into Koreatown LA as a whole.
Just a decade ago, everything in Koreatown LA was built with mostly Koreans in mind. The businesses, the servers, the signs, and even the streets in Koreatown LA were primarily focused on serving Korean clientele in California. As a Korean American myself, I am privileged to have access to and know the full depth of Koreatown LA.
Today, the highly anticipated new comer, Intercrew, is living proof that Koreatown LA is exploding with diversity and experiencing a historical renaissance, one that could rival that of Harlem’s in the 1920’s.
Most fail to realize that Koreatown LA offers so much more than just Korean BBQ. In fact, Koreatown LA has recently become California’s most dense restaurant, food, and nightlife scene.
The 400+ restaurants in Koreatown LA offer an extremely wide variety of cuisines including but not limited to Mediterranean, Colombian, Cajun, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Italian, French and of course Korean… Even Korean cuisine itself has 20+ sub-cuisines, each warranting it’s own dedicated establishments.
Although many know that Koreatown LA is the most diverse culinary hub in Southern California, Koreatown LA has an outdated perception of being a hole-in-the-wall neighborhood lacking glamorously sophisticated restaurants, normally reserved for the Westside of Los Angeles.
Then came Intercrew, the new comer to change it all.
Throughout American history, Koreans and Asians in general have faced a social barrier known as the “Bamboo Ceiling”. There are many talented managers, gifted artists, and even innovative chefs that have been unable to advance their careers because of this “Bamboo Ceiling”.
In a similar way, Koreatown LA as a neighborhood has been unable to advance its own “career” due to it’s perception as a hole in the wall neighborhood only good for all you can eat Korean BBQ. In the present day, this couldn’t be further from the truth, Intercrew highlights this common misconception.
Intercrew on Wilshire Blvd strives to challenge this inaccurate perception and breaks through Koreatown LA’s “Bamboo Ceiling” by bringing a dining experience formerly reserved for the Westside of Los Angeles right into the heart of Koreatown LA.
The executive team behind Intercrew is nothing short of rockstars. The trio being the operations are extremely well decorated in their respective industries.
Managing Partner Richard Nam (the Belasco – Center) is a prominent nightlife veteran that keeps a focus on hospitality at Intercrew while Chef de Cuisine Johnny Tran (Otium – right) and Executive Chef Erik Sun (Bestia – left) are the culinary experts that ensure excellence and innovation in taste.
The founding partners of Intercrew are note worthy as well. Richard Nam (GM), Kevin Lin, James Roh, Daniel Park, Kirby Lee, and Kevin Nishimura are the original creators of Intercrew.
Since we were running late we wanted to be courteous and called in to let them know we were running late.
We were connected directly with Rick, Intercrew’s maître d’, and were congenially thanked for our notice. His vibrant yet professional tone subconsciously set my expectations quite high ever before we arrived. I can always tell about the way a restaurant strives to operate by the way the answer the phone.
When we actually got inside Intercrew we were immediately blown away by the space. Rivaling grandeur dining venues down the street in DTLA like Bottega Louie and the NoMad, Intercrew’s first impression is truly astounding.
The ornate chandelier centerpiece draws you inward towards Intercrew’s heart while the ceiling high curtains invoke a Great Gatsby-esque exclusivity. The blue, gold, and neutral toned theme is one of the most fluid aesthetics we’ve seen in all of Los Angeles. Simply put, the venue itself is nothing short of fantastic, tastefully done with a caliber fit for even the ritziest areas of LA.
The moment you walk in, Intercrew seems to teleport you into a different world.
Having been to a variety of Michelin starred restaurants, I was ready to be underwhelmed by the dining experience. Too many restaurants are focused on design & ambiance alone, I was beginning to become fearful that Intercrew would also be one of them.
To my surprise, the food and drinks at Intercrew exceeded the venue’s aesthetic impressions.
We started by ordering their signature East Side & Intercrew Old Fashioned cocktails. Both were excellent and delivered within several minutes. Service was absolutely on point the entire night. Rick & Richard both came by a handful of time with a demeanor that displayed prowess but also felt down to earth.
With chefs Erik Sun & Johnny Tran heading the kitchen, the caliber of Intercrew’s cuisine is on par with that of Bestia’s & Otium’s, all the while being located in Koreatown LA.
For starters we ordered the Bread Plate, the Hamachi Crudo, & the Burrata Toast. All three were quite satisfying and paired surprisingly well with our bourbon and gin based cocktails.
For our entrees, we ordered the Wagyu Bolognese, the Pan Roasted Dry-Aged Duck Breast, and the Seafood Paella. The food came out in a service à la française fashion minus the bread plate. Personally I enjoyed having the full spread of the meal at once since it allowed me to enjoy the harmony of the foods together rather than in courses.
The Pan Roasted Dry Aged Duck Breast, was quite good. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside served over mash, the dish was a good starting point into the entrees.
Shortly after, I took a dive into the Wagyu Bolognese and was quite delighted by the al-dente consistency of the fettucini and distinct flavor of the parmigiana reggiano. Most importantly, I enjoyed the spicier tone of the Wagyu Bolognese along with it’s meaty consistency.
Then, I cleared my plate to experience the Seafood Paella and was blown away. With a consistency more like a risotto and a white fish I couldn’t discern, the flavors of Intercrew’s Seafood Paella were not traditional at all. Although the main flavors certainly came from the sea, I noticed a twist that tasted particularly Korean.
Perplexed by the Seafood Paella’s flavor profile, I asked our server about the recipe and she notably mentioned that their unique ingredient is Soondubu Paste. It was brilliant, the clear standout from the crowd while paying homage to Koreatown.
To top it all off we had to try their Basque Cheesecake for a final test. Thoroughly impressed thus far, I was ready to be disappointed, I mean they already knocked it out of the park right?
As soon as I tasted Basque Cheesecake I could taste the goat cheese, salted honey chantilly, charcoal smoked strawberry, and crumble harmonize together like an opera’s grand finale. I could not believe it, the dessert was just as good as the food.
As my friend bluntly put it: “This was the best cheesecake I have ever had.”
Although Intercrew’s venue could certainly be fit for a spectacular nightclub especially with decorated nightlife veteran Richard Nam at its helm, Intercrew in our view is a restaurant first with an excellent lounge to match. With a heavy focus on cuisine while providing the best ambiance in town, Intercrew provides a lively atmosphere on weekends perfect for an intimate date, celebratory get together, or even a casual night out.
If you’re looking to mingle with other patrons, you can take a flight up the stairs into the elevated lounge area. From there you’ll have a sweeping view of the venue. If you picked the right night, you’ll may find yourself mingling with Angelina Jolie… She happened to be there on the Saturday we visited.
After speaking directly with Richard Nam, he pointed out that over the 2021 Holidays they will continuously expand the menu while increasing their dessert menu drastically. New Year’s Eve, Intercrew will be offering a special set menu for the night with seasonal items fit for the Holiday cheer.
After closing out the check, I sat there for a moment just to take it all in. “Could I really be in Koreatown LA right now?” I asked myself.
“Is this New York? San Francisco? Beverly Hills? or even Downtown LA?” No it was none of the above, it was me experiencing the “Renaissance Era” of Koreatown LA with Intercrew at the helm. I am elated to say that Intercrew is here to stay and pave the way for the future beyond Koreatown LA’s “Bamboo Ceilling”.
Thank you Intercrew for challenging business as usual and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in Koreatown LA, you have earned a loyal customer for life.
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